The good people at Family Adventure Podcast interviewed our family regarding being on the road with so many kids and I thought I would put a link to it here.
Last year was amazing. Your gifts enabled me to spend time in Turkey, China, Indonesia, Egypt, and Eastern Europe to equip missional leaders and their networks in those countries. And because we traveled most of those countries in our 4x4 overlander, the whole family could come along for free. It was a great experience. Life-changing, actually, for us and for the ministries we strengthened. And we did it on a shoe-string.
I want to write a book and give you copy. More about that in a second.
In 2012 we will be primarily in Asia, with NZ as our home base. The family is here in NZ now, living in a Mongolian style yurt. It has a dirt floor so its a bit cold at nights but we are building a platform for it. Being homeless is great for getting around on a budget but when winter comes its not as much fun. Bringing the truck (our home) over here will solve a lot of problems, as well as enabling us to continue the journey. From NZ, the next port of call would be Capetown when the time is right to return to Africa.
We have 2 big needs right now.
1. I am flying overseas today to pick up the truck and continue the journey. I will be driving 4000kms through 6 countries. More details on which countries in my newsletter shortly. I need diesel money - about US$1500.
Paypal account is [email protected]
2. Our truck is currently in Turkey but we need to ship it home to New Zealand where it will be our Asian base for the next season. Shipping cost is US$4,780. There is a container ship leaving early March which is not a lot of time but if enough of you kicked in a little bit, we could do it for sure.
Here's the thing. If you donate US$10 or more, I will send you a copy of my e-book based on my 35 country trek, a journey that has given me new perspective on the global Christian movement as well as my own life priorities. I hope to start a kick-starter thing but don't have time right now but if you give to PayPal and leave your email, I will make sure you get a copy of the e-book as soon as it is finished.
Can you pass on the need on your blogs? Facebook? other media? It would be a huge help. And we could also get the truck before winter.
And if you have a larger chunk to donate [God bless you] or want to do a bank transfer then read on for directions.
Apparently I am carbon neutral, according to Dopplr. They have tracked almost all of my journeys since 2008. I have taken a few journeys recently to sensitive places and I havent told Dopplr but I dont think they would add much to the total.
How did we do it, despite traveling so much? Not sure, really, but heres some factors that might contribute to it.
I sold my car in April last year for a whopping £600 which was fair for a 1997 Peugeot 806 with a few dents. We bought bikes for the family which takes a little longer to get around but its good for fitness and keeps the carbon down. Of course we take the bus most of the time when we are in one place, and that can be very time-consuming, but it seems right for now.
We normally carry 7 bikes on the back but recently, with the extra people, we have carried 2 extra bikes inside.
Our 1987 4x4 Iveco motorhome/overlander gets 14 MPG (about 20 litres/100km) which is a little worse than most motorhomes but better than most overlanders, but we have 7 people in it whenever we drive. Dopplr doesnt take that into consideration but I feel if you are going to drive, load up your vehicle with as many people as you can. And besides that, our total milage is probably much less than for those people who drive daily to work.
Our biggest savings in fuel last year was probably not automotive at all but rather in heating. Having left our apartment in March 2008, we dont have to heat it, or anything. Our motorhome is well insulated and since we have driven south to warmer climes, we havent spent anything at all on heating. Going south for the winter isn't just for the birds. It works for humans also. Although we are looking for a wood stove for our motorhome which is a cheap and efficient way to heat it when its gets cold, which it does occasionally.
We just added two solar panels of 225W each which means can can now fully charge up our leisure batteries every day and not have to use the engine.
We added mostly hand powered appliances to our motorhome - a hand cranking coffee grinder, a mangle for wringing out our clothes (which we hand wash) and even a foot pump for the water rather than electric pump.
Abigail gets cranky doing the washing.
I also reduced a lot of carbon, and saved some money and time, by turning down a number of conferences that had me flying a really long distance to contribute and then flying all the way home. What a waste! Instead, we set up events where we were, or where we were going to be along our travel circuit. That meant that I missed out on a few biggies but I spent more time with the family, and supported events that were more local. And those events that we took part in along the way were generally more relational and low-key rather than flashy, stage-centered and shallow.
As for the rest of 2010, here is the map that we are following. We are hooking up with missional entrepreneurs along the way. Let me know if we are coming through your town. Appreciate your prayers for safety as we travel, and for the other half of our support/sponsorship that we are still hoping for.
My current schedule:
Friday (today) Orkney Islands, UK
Saturday - Aberdeen, Scotland
Sunday - London
Monday - Oxford, with CMS
Tuesday - London
Wednesday - North Africa
Follow me on Dopplr, although take note that my North Africa schedule is not publicized there.
Lavish embellishments. Wow! Talkin' bout a second story to our garage and a luxury home addition that will nearly double the square footage. In light of all the blog conversations last week about full disclosure of lifestyle choices and the stuff people buy, esp. ministerial people, I thought it fitting to tell you everything that we are doing to our home. I know we are in recession and money is tight but we have been waiting to splash out for a number of additions to our home, including a second story on our garage to house all the extra vehicles, and a lavish pop-up roof to give us more sleeping space in Africa.
We have been waiting until we got to Africa to open up our roof so that we can sleep on top. Its been a little cramped with 9 people living in this truck and the roof top area will greatly increase the square footage by about two thirds. And not having air conditioning means that any ventilation we can find will make life much more comfortable in hot climates.
9 people? Well, actually, apart from our family of 7 and Donald and Alana who are traveling with us, we keep collecting people and dropping them off. There were 13 of us travelling in our truck when we arrived here and about that many staying with us now.
The fully collapsible pop-up roof will give us plenty more space for everyone to sleep. We are also putting some rails on the roof so people won't fall off and it will be easier to tie some spare wheels and stuff on the roof when we need to.
Another luxury addition I should mention is the second story on our garage. With 9 bikes, we had to get creative and make use of our height. We now have 7 bikes of the back and we keep 2 inside the truck.
We are also getting some rust removed from the truck and some metal things that rusted and fell off are getting wielded back on. While the work is being done, the mechanic is letting us stay in this little shanty-penthouse, along with some other travellers and young hippies who are camping out with us. It doesn't leak very much at all - just in a few places - but nothing that some strategically positioned saucepans dont take care of. The place is buzzing with people. New travellers turn up each day. Yesterday a group of Lithuanians walking across Africa turned up and we all ate together. Very cool.
Big article yesterday called "Dad lost his job, so this family lives on the road." Its about families who have traded their houses for motorhomes in order to ride out (no pun intended) the recession. The article points to a great website called Families on the Road which, if you look carefully on the front page, mentions the Jones family of 7 that is traveling around Europe. Their website is called Jonesberries, because they remind people of the Thornberrys.
Hey - wait a minute . . . thats us!
This is me, waking up this morning in Portugal, in a pre-coffee state, standing next to our overlander truck named Maggie. Its a bit small for a family of 7 [and their friends] but we often find ourselves in tight situations where a larger vehicle wouldn't make it.
Because my job has me traveling to out-of-the-way mission projects and social enterprises that are often off the grid, I need a 4x4 truck that can get us there and back again. Its pretty slow on the highway - top speed of 90km - but its reliable. It has an air-cooled 6 cyclinder engine that gets about 14 MPG. Its not much but we carry a lot of people and weight. I call it the Great Commission vehicle.
The most frequent question is about schooling and our 5 children. Answer - we home-school our kids and they love it. Well, actually, my wife Debbie does most of the homeschooling. And right now we have a tudor named Donald who is traveling with us and helping to teach.
We have actually done this "families on the road" thing a fair bit. Our first motorhome was in California in the early 90's. We bought a 1969 Ford based camper van for $2400 and lived in it while I studied at Fuller Seminary in California. In 1998, we traveled around USA in a boring white van, sleeping at National Parks in a tent. A church in Florida took pity on us (Spanish River) and gave us a ten year old Winnebago that was donated to them and all of a sudden we were back to full time life on the road.
Those were great times! In 1999, we covered 25,000 miles around USA, going to almost every state. My job was to help start and encourage new church movements among America's urban youth so it turned out to be a very efficient and economical way of getting around. We went to all the states except the Dakotas.